Hinton Ampner house and gardens are largely the creation of one man, Ralph Dutton, the 8th and last Baron Sherborne. The gardens entirely so.
The estate had been in Dutton's family since 1597. In 1793 the E-shaped Tudor house which was sited close to the church was considered to be so haunted that it was uninhabitable. It was demolished and replaced by a plain Georgian building about 50m away.
In the late nineteenth century Ralph Dutton's grandfather remodelled and extended this house into what Dutton described as a "monstrosity of exceptional hideousness" when he inherited the estate in 1935.
With the help of architects Lord Gerald Wellesley and Trenwith Wells, he demolished most of the additions and tried to return the building to how it might have been, had it been built on its current scale in the 1790s, a time he thought of as the "Age of Splendour".
In April 1960 a disastrous fire destroyed the house and most of its contents. Undaunted Dutton decided to rebuild it and to furnish it with a new collection.
Having no direct heirs, Dutton gave the estate to the National Trust on his death in 1985. For opening times, admission prices, etc. please see their official site, detailed below.
Although Dutton considered his Grandfather's gardens to be "quite an attractive example of mid-Victorian design", on inheriting the estate he set about remodelling them to create something more in keeping with his neo-Georgian house.
Drawing inspiration from other twentieth century gardens such as Sissinghurst and Hindcote, and using a subtle palate of modern plants mostly supplied by the famous Hampshire nursery Hillier's, Dutton created a garden that is full of surprises and has some fine views.